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VERBAL TAP (Episode 85) on Metamoris 4


VERBAL TAP (Episode 85) on Metamoris 4


[buzzsprout episode='196339' player='true'] M4-Poster-full2Raf's Recollection | Following in the lead of our most popular episode ever (our Metamoris 3 recap, Episode 66), we enlisted the services of a host of guests who know far more about the sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu than we do to help us review all things Metamoris 4.

That's right, we cover it all: the shocks, the surprises, the missing championship belts, the streaks that came to a halting end, the "secret match" that was hardly a secret to anyone, the fashion, the beards, the Nevada Athletic Commission, the drum circles critiques.  It's ALL here!

Also, how have we not discussed the official promo poster to the right here looking like the worst direct-to-Redbox movie cover to ever hit the scene (are they athletes or aliens)?

But I digress, let's carry on:

Allow me to introduce you to our all-star panel for this episode:

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 8.57.49 PMAmechi Akpom Our brotha from the mighty BJJ Training Journal ap (now available for droid users!) kicks things off for us with his review of the high caliber match between Garry Lee Tonon and Kit Dale.  Not only was Amechi there to see the event live, but he also got the chance to run into Kit and Garry later that evening post-match (because that's the kind of in-depth reporting Amechi brings to this podcast).  Amechi tells us a little bit about the behind-the-scenes action and breaks down how he saw this fast paced match.

BJJ Training Journal #1 BJJ Training Journal #2

Jim Lawson - Now I hear you asking, "Hey Raf, why would you put a rival BJJ podcast host on your show?"  And I'd tell you the answer is simple: he threatened me.  Yep, literally called me out to come train with him and I've yet to do so (I've been busy, lay off).  Nonetheless, Jim from the amazing The Warrior's Club podcast brings a true black belt perspective in helping us break down the match between Saulo Ribeiro and Rodrigo "Comprido" Medeiros.  And although he's a "rival" podcaster in this crazy saturated world of BJJ chat shows, we here couldn't be happier The Warrior's Club is back on air.

Brandon Mccaghren - Since the day we stumbled upon the guy behind the hilarious "I Dominated Eddie (The Gracie Filter)" show, Brandon has become a beloved staple here at the podcast.  His giant goofball nature has fit in perfectly with us and we were stoked when he agreed to talk about the epic encounter between Keenan Cornelius and Vinny Magalhaes.  But that's not all, Brandon pulled double duty for the podcast this week when he premiered the very first song written about our show (that's right, we have a song written about us!).  Not since the days of Eagle Eye Cherry have I heard lyrics and guitar work that poignant.  Thank you, Brandon.  Thank. You.

Eric MedinaEric Medina - Eric made his Verbal Tap debut on our last Metamoris recap show and gave us some great insight into Eddie Bravo's training regimen.  This time he ups the ante as he gives us a play-by-play account of how he figured out the highly guarded Metamoris 4 "secret match (well, most of it)," then talks about the crazy exhibition put on by Baret Yoshida and Jeff Glover.  We are also stoked to hear that Eric will be participating at the next Eddie Bravo Invitational and look forward to seeing him do his thing on that stage again.

Brent Burniston - Brent BurnistonIf you've been listening to the podcast lately, you've likely heard me speak about the excellent experiences I've had training with Brent and his crew over at SubconsciousBJJ.  With the historic result of the match between Josh Barnett and Dean Lister, we needed the kind of expertise and analysis that only a Jean Jacques Machado black belt can provide.  Brent not only does a great job breaking down the match, but also gives us some much-needed perspective on what's next for bothBarnett and Lister.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, Brent's instruction is top notch.  There's a reason why everyone at my viewing party turned to him to help make sense of this match.  Lucky for us, he was happy to give that same analysis and insight for the podcast.

John EvansJohn Evans - It's not a true Metamoris review show without John Evans.  There's a reason why John Evans is one of the most popular guests on our podcast.  His love of jiu-jitsu is infectious.  One only needs to watch a few minutes of his detailed insight on his BJJ Breakdown youtube page to really see how much jiu-jitsu and the practice of teaching the art are in his soul.  Which is why we asked John to help us break down the final match between Andre Galvao and Chael Sonnen.  We talk about what surprised him in the match, the drama leading up to it all, and even break down the hilarious promo that left many of us cheering for Chael (even if we didn't really understand what the hell any of it actually meant).

streakmadnessMetamoris cards always bring the best out of us here on the podcast and that is due in great part to our panel.  I want to thank these guys for taking their time to walk us through a great event and can't wait to hear what you all think about it.

Hit us up folks.  You know the places to give us feedback.

Facebook: /VerbalTapCast

Twitter: @VerbalTapCast

Instagram: @VerbalTapCast

Vine: @VerbalTapCast

And stay on the lookout for a new installment of our Around the Mat YouTube series.  Word has it, we've got a Metamoris 4 Review show that's worth your time.  Look for it over on our YouTube page right here in the next few days.



VERBAL TAP (Episode 27) Goes to Metamoris 2

IMAG1389Raf's Recollection |  Allow me to be entirely forthcoming: Metamoris II was the first time I’ve ever attended a grappling tournament.

Over the years, I’ve covered and attended dozens of UFC’s, Mixed Martial Arts competitions, and boxing matches, but last Sunday marked the first time I’ve ever attended a grappling-only tournament.

Yes, I, too, have no idea how I’ve never been to a single grappling-only tournament; No, I don’t get out much.

Now that’s not to say I’m completely oblivious to the competitive world of competitive jiu-jitsu.  I’m familiar with the athletes, I regularly watch the matches, and have an above average recollection of the trends in the sport.  But it’s also why I thought it best to bring along a strong jiu-jitsu technician (and all around good guy), John Evans, to properly contextualize the event for all of our dedicated grappling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu fans (you can read his excellent summary of the event right here).

Having said all that, I came to Metamoris with high expectations.  This is, after all, an event that prides itself on being the alternative to the oft-criticized world of elite jiu-jitsu.  The format, the rules, and the first-rate caliber athletes involved display a thoughtful and measured response to the “point” and “advantage” system that some argue ruin the essence of modern jiu-jitsu competition.

And with just that concept and design, the event gave us plenty to talk about this week: On our podcast here, we touch upon all of the individual matches (good and bad) and have a thoughtful discussion about type athleticism that was displayed on the Metamoris mats.

But I’d like to take a moment to talk specifically about my own experience and the concept of “spectacle.”

To begin, you could tell there were a few looming ghosts from inaugural event.  After the event started over an hour late last year, everything seemed rushed at the pace of a runaway freight train.  I’m a stickler to keeping things prompt, but I can also understand the difficulty of keeping things on time for a PPV, when you have matches that can go anywhere from one to twenty minutes (especially when five of the six matches go the distance).  However, from a production standpoint, if the audience feels like you’re rushing, chances are it’s because you’re rushing.  There is a certain effortlessness the event has yet to find that can easily make the production value of the event come off as more assured.

Second, in what was perhaps the biggest conversation piece after the event: Match-ups are key.  When they work (Galvao v. Lovato Jr., Dern v. Nicolini), they produce fascinating displays of jiu-jitsu between two equally matched opponents that, even if they don’t end in a finish, do more to advance the art.  But when you get match ups that are a hard sell to begin with, you sometimes get what you pay for.  My sincere congrats for Brendan Schaub for volunteering to be a participant in the event.  Seriously.  It’s a level of competition that is truly difficult and I don’t think anyone would fault him for wanting to be involved.  Would I have like to see him engage more with Cyborg?  Of course.  Would I have like to have seen Cyborg calculate a new game plan when there was an opponent who was “running away?”  Sure.  But the fault isn’t so black and white.  Did Schaub have an obligation to “fall into Cyborg’s guard?”  Should a seasoned jiu-jitsu guy like Cyborg—who doesn’t typically have the problem of an opponent who is constantly backpedaling—be forced to dictate the pace and abandon his own game plan just because he “knows better?”  Again, a tricky conundrum.  It seemed both performers were implementing a game plan to “win,” which sadly came at the expense of anything remotely worth watching.  So let’s take it a step further: With the very prevalent disparity between the participants, what was the expectation in this match?  I’ve run this scenario a hundred times in my brain and have still yet to produce an answer, except to say that maybe next year we give Cyborg an opponent that’s at least on his level.  I think there are few people who would question Cyborg’s placement on a Metamoris card, why not give him the type of opponent he deserves?  Who knows, could produce something that’s fascinating for all the right reasons.

And I’m sure I can spend a lot of time discussing how the event would have been better served with more than a week after the Worlds (we can play this set of “what if” scenarios for days).  But I take Metamoris President Ralek Gracie and team at their word when they say they plan to work around other jiu-jitsu competitions in the future.

Blemishes aside, Metamoris has more in its win column than it does in its needs improvement file.

The stage.  The programs.  The invitationsThe promos.  All things this tournament gets right.  But it’s more than just all the small things, for me the thing that makes Metamoris so uniquely special is “the feel.”

The majority of the audience (when they’re not heckling Schaub) is quiet and respects the athletes.  The mood is tense and ooh’s and aww’s come with every sweep and take down attempt almost instinctively, with the tempered politeness a reflection of an educated audience who understands how difficult many of these moves are to pull off.  In some ways, despite the band, the big lights, and the large cheering crowd, the competition gives off a kind of “exclusive” vibe.  At one point, the intimacy of the venue and quietness made it feel like we were given the opportunity to watch a match between two high level practitioners at a local academy that would otherwise be closed off to the lower belts and spectators.  The kind of thing that in years past would have just been the subject of lore and storytelling.  Pulling off that kind of thing isn’t easy and is certainly worthy of recognition.

So depending on what it is you consider ideal, I think when it comes to format, even the most impassioned jiu-jitsu fan would have to admit that the concept of a perfect system seems somewhat out of reach.

There will always be Brendan Schaub’s.  Time limit draws.  Audiences who may not “get it” or resist these kinds of events from time to time.

But that doesn’t mean we stop trying.  Aside from all of the superb attention to detail and ethos the Gracie family loans this event, the strongest thing Metamoris may have going for it right now is zeitgeist.  It is the right tournament at the right time.

Frankly, as a jiu-jitsu fan, we don’t have many large-scale options.  There’s no other event that makes this sport come off like a spectacle.  The athletes are treated like rock stars, the selection of venue is just right, and a majority of the players and participants are spot-on.  For the time being, why not make this the exclusive home for competitive jiu-jitsu?  Care less about giving us match-ups with marquee UFC fighters and care more about filling that spectacle void that so many of us jiu-jitsu fans crave and need.

And, in return, as fans of the sport, we should keep the following grim realities in check before we use our collective wit to troll the internet: we don’t live in an age where Nike sponsorships happen to the elite-level jiu-jitsu practitioner, we don’t have coverage on national prime time television, and the sport that closest resembles this one is currently fighting for its rightful place in the Olympics.  At the end of the day, I think we need to ask ourselves: do we want to see something like this on a regular basis?  And, if so, is there anything else out there like it?  At least here, for better or worse, we have a collection of folks putting this event together who care.

The very figurehead of said organization caring so much he does something like this:

I’m not sure I share the look of grave concern expressed by Ralek here (I think the show was far from a disappointment and has more positives than his face lets on), but it is nice to know that going forward we’ve got someone who wants to give us the best kind of experience possible.  But I also feel good in knowing that as long as he and his team are committed to giving us a first-rate event, they merit a strong consideration for an experimental format that puts jiu-jitsu on display for those people who love it.

And that’s why I, for one, was happy to call Metamoris II my first live grappling experience.  And hope it’s the first of many to come.